The latest charges of corruption and extortion to hit Chinese residential furniture manufacturer DaVinci Furniture come straight out of a made-for-TV movie.

Here’s the story. Following customer complaints and a subsequent investigation last year, customs records backed up claims that Shanghai-based DaVinci Furniture lied about some of its furniture being imported from Italy. In fact, Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau authorities verified that 10 percent of the products DaVinci sold as "imported" were actually made in China .

The customs bureau said the import tag increased the price of the furniture tenfold and DaVinci Furniture was slapped with a 1.33 million yuan (nearly $212,000) fine.

But then the plot thickened. Just last week, the general manager of the Beijing Times newspaper, Cui Bin, was fired on charges of corruption, including claims he signed a 3 million yuan (nearly $500 thousand) contract with DaVinci to not only improve its public relations but to stop other reporters from posting negative articles about the company. According to the Shanghai Daily, among other things, Cui attempted to negotiate a payoff to a reporter from China Central Television, the media that originally broke news of the scandal. (The CCTV reporter has denied he took the money.)

And just to add another twist to the story, according to, DaVinci is now accusing CCTV reporter Li Wenxue, who broke the original story, of trying to extort 1 million yuan ($158,000) from the furniture manufacturer. On Jan. 2, according to TheStarOnline, DaVinci CEO Doris Phua filed a report to the police, General Administration of Press and Publication and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, claiming that the reporter had fabricated information about DaVinci’s products. These claims come despite the customs bureau’s findings of fraud.

So how will this story end? Stay tuned.

Read more of Karen's blogs.

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